Friday, March 26, 2010

Tudor Crime

Tudor era crime fiction seems to be quite popular at the moment. The latest in C J Sansom's Shardlake series, Heartstone, will be out in September:

It was summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour.

In the meantime, S J Parris's Heresy has just been published:

Introducing the monk Giodarno Bruno, magician, scientist, and heretic in a new series of historical thrillers for fans of C.J.Sansom and 'The Name of the Rose' England, 1583 A country awash with paranoia and conspiracy -- but a safe haven for a radical monk on the run. Giordano Bruno, with his theories of astronomy and extraterrestrial life, has fled the Inquisition for the court of Elizabeth I. Here, he attracts the attention of Francis Walsingham, chief spymaster and sworn enemy of Catholic plotters. Bruno is sent undercover to Oxford, where the university is believed to be a hotbed of French dissent. Bruno quickly finds himself drawn into college intrigues, and distracted by a beautiful young woman. Before long, he is investigating a hideous series of murders, each linked by a letter offering clues. The letters suggest that each victim was guilty of heresy. But is Bruno being aided or misled - or is he himself the next target? Stalking a cunning and determined killer through the shadowy cloisters of Oxford, Bruno realizes that even the wise cannot always tell truth from heresy. But some are prepared to kill for it!

On the 1st April, the first in a new series - Bones of Avalon - from Phil Rickman will be published:

Religious strife, Glastonbury legends, the bones of King Arthur and the curse of the Tudors...can Renaissance man John Dee help the young Queen Elizabeth to avoid it? It is 1560. Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year, the date for her coronation having been chosen by her astrologer, Dr John Dee, at just 32 already famous throughout Europe as a mathematician and expert in the hidden arts. But neither Elizabeth nor Dee feel entirely secure. Both have known imprisonment for political reasons. The Queen is unpopular with both Roman Catholics and the new breed of puritanical protestant. Dee is regarded with suspicion in an era where the dividing line between science and sorcery is, at best, indistinct. And the assignment he's been given by the Queen's chief minister, Sir William Cecil, will blur it further: ride to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, bring back King Arthur's bones. The mission takes the mild, bookish Dee to the tangled roots of English magic and the Arthurian legacy so important to the Tudors. Into unexpected violence, spiritual darkness, the breathless stirring of first love...and the cold heart of a complex plot against Elizabeth. With him is his friend and former student, Robert Dudley, a risk-taker, a wild card...and possibly the Queen's secret lover. Dee is Elizabethan England's forgotten hero. A man for whom this world - even the rapidly-expanding world of the Renaissance - was never enough.

On the 29th April, Revenger, the sequel to Martyr by Rory Clements will be out:

1592. England and Spain are at war, yet there is peril at home, too. The death of her trusted spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham has left Queen Elizabeth vulnerable. Conspiracies multiply. The quiet life of John Shakespeare is shattered by a summons from Robert Cecil, the cold but deadly young statesman who dominated the last years of the Queen's long reign, insisting Shakespeare re-enter government service. His mission: to find vital papers, now in the possession of the Earl of Essex. Essex is the brightest star in the firmament, a man of ambition. He woos the Queen, thirty-three years his senior, as if she were a girl his age. She is flattered by him -- despite her loathing for his mother, the beautiful, dangerous Lettice Knollys who presides over her own glittering court -- a dazzling array of the mad, bad, dangerous and disaffected. When John Shakespeare infiltrates this dissolute world he discovers not only that the Queen herself is in danger -- but that he and his family is also a target. With only his loyal footsoldier Boltfoot Cooper at his side, Shakespeare must face implacable forces who believe themselves above the law: men and women who kill without compunction. And in a world of shifting allegiances, just how far he can trust Robert Cecil, his devious new master?

Available on import (to the UK) we have the first in a new series from Peg Herring, Her Highness' First Murder which came out in January:

Elizabeth Tudor is as appalled as everyone else when headless corpses litter the streets of London, but when one of her own ladies is murdered, she vows to stop the killer. Her new friend Simon Maldon wants to help, and they join with a sergeant of the King’s Welsh Guard to investigate. Is the killer Elizabeth’s castellan? A creepy cleric who manages her household accounts? A madman captured on the grounds?

Religion seems to be a factor, since the murdered women are dressed in nun’s robes. Is it due to the fact that Henry’s beheaded two wives or that he’s outlawed Catholicism in England? The answers aren’t clear, but danger soon stalks the two young people. As the guardsmen search frantically for the depraved killer, Simon finds himself a prisoner, alone and in trouble. Elizabeth’s life is threatened as well. It may be too late for one of them, maybe both, to emerge from Her Highness’ first murder alive.


Queen Elizabeth I also appears in a seven book series by Karen Harper.

1 comment:

Book Dilettante said...

Am amazed at the number of new crime novels set in this period of English history. Wish I had time to make room for them all :)


Harvee
Book Dilettante